In the courtyard of Northridge Presbyterian Church stands a beautiful white marble planter with many varieties of blooming flowers. The piece is entitled “Esther’s Garden” in honor of late Lakewood resident Esther Brents, and stands as a monument to all she contributed in horticulture to the Lakewood area.
Undoubtedly, Esther’s most significant work in the area of horticulture was her design of the nearly one acre of land that surrounds the home she shared with her husband, Thomas. Since Esther’s death in 1991, Thomas has meticulously preserved the grounds of this home on Alexander, in which he continues to reside. It is his personal monument to his wife’s love of gardening.
Thomas and his wife moved to the Lakewood area in 1950, when he transferred to the Dallas area from Detroit while working for General Motors. At that time, they were living just down the street from the location of his current home, a still undeveloped area of Lakewood. In 1965, zoning changes allowed the Brents to purchase the land on which they built their dream home – a tri-level, free flowing structure which allows for views of the grounds from all over the house.
“This house grew out of the lot,” says Thomas. “We had architect Ty Davis come up with a plan that would allow us to best show off the property.” According to him, several creeks come together to cross the back of the property. Esther Brents planned the landscaping around this natural resource, using plants that were native to the area and that would require minimal maintenance.
Local Realtors Margaret Pate and her son Russ met Thomas two years ago when they awarded him “Yard of the Month” as part of a contest run by Coldwell Banker. Margaret says she was instantly charmed by the energetic man, who will turn 100 years old on Jan. 9, 2000.
He is a delightful man, and so devoted to his garden,” says Margaret. “We became such good friends that I began visiting him on a regular basis.” She drops by his home to chat at least once a month now. “When I met Mr. Brents two years ago, he was still doing some of the gardening himself. He could take you all around this property and point out each type of plant,” she explains.
Thomas’ health has declined somewhat in the last two years. Because of this, he now relies on a longtime caretaker to tend to most of the gardening; a chore that requires between 10 and 15 hours a week. But he remains keenly aware of the condition and care of the grounds.
Esther Brents received dozens of awards for her horticultural talent over the many years she lived in Lakewood. Her legacy is this perpetually blooming garden that her Lakewood neighbors continue to enjoy. Thomas Brents’ devotion to this virtual paradise she created for them so many years ago is something he calls “a labor of love.”